The bum-and-pigeon show

One of the “benefits” (and I use that term very lightly) of living downtown is that every time you walk out the door, you’re treated to a show: The bum-and-pigeon show. And boy, are they out today.

A few minutes ago, I decided I needed some caffeine and walked up the Main Street Mall to Jack’s for a Mountain Dew. While on my way, I got hit up by a bum with one of the most unique lines I had ever heard: “Hey man, want to get a Mother’s Day card?” He wasn’t a vendor with a big stack of them that he was selling. He was a bum, and he had ONE. He probably found it in a dumpster, or maybe he slipped it under his shirt while in Walgreens and walked out with it. I’m sure my mother would be thrilled to receive a Mother’s Day card that I bought from a bum.

In line behind me at Jack’s was another bum, trying to buy a 24-ounce can of Busch beer. The total was something like $1.40, and he had $1.24. “Ain’t you got nothin’ for a dollar?” he asked. And then as I was walking out the door: “Brother-man! Hey, bro! Lemme get sixteen cent from ya!” After he got kicked out of the store, he commented to another bum, waiting for him at the Jefferson Avenue trolley stop: “I’m sixteen cent short, mayne.”

As for the pigeons, they’re just being pigeons, walking around Court Square and the surrounding area, looking stupid and hoping someone will feed them.

I’m wondering if my number of encounters with bums today will hit double digits. They seem to all flow into town around this time of year because they know that May is a profitable month to hit people up here in Memphis. A friend and I have thought about starting a business selling bum repellent – packaged in cans like Off bug spray, but to keep bums away rather than mosquitoes. Seems like that would be a hot-selling item downtown…